Parish poll to go ahead in Thetford
A parish poll will be held within the next six weeks to determine whether people are in favour of relocating Thetford's bus station.
An overwhelming majority voted in favour of the referendum at a parish meeting on Monday at which scores of people turned out to have their say.
It was standing room only at the Guildhall on the Market Place as the Thetford Society's environment committee chairman, Stuart Wilson, put forward the case in favour of holding a poll into whether the bus station from its current Anchor site to one between St Nicholas Street and Minstergate.
Thanking the town council for arranging the meeting, which was presided over by town mayor Derek Mortimer, he said: 'I'm sure there are people asking what my expectations are in going down this route. I understand it will not be legally binding but I hope it will give Breckland Council an idea of what we want for the town.
'I hope Breckland will have the good grace to listen to the electorate.'
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He went on to say the current proposals for a new bus station no longer incorporated the same facilities as has been mooted when the idea was put forward some years ago.
Speaking after the meeting however, leader of Breckland Council, William Nunn, said that contrary to what some people believed, there would in fact be a taxi drop-off/pick-up point, and that the bus station would be built to accommodate the largest European buses.
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'I said they shouldn't bother having a poll because we know what the outcome is,' he said. 'We already know their feelings and they think the best place for a bus station is where it is.
'The bus station plans were presented in 2008 and the only thing that has changed is that we don't know what's going into the building. The MTF [Moving Thetford Forward] view was it should be used by a community interest.' Mr Nunn went on: 'When we started the Thetford Area Action Plan the key area was the car park and the Anchor site for the regeneration of the town centre. Some people in Thetford are now asking us to leave the car park as it is and effectively walk away. 'We can tidy up the Anchor, which would mean knocking it down, but with the car parking spaces, which we've been told people still want, and a turning circle for buses there would be barely any room for shops and the Minsteragte site would remain derelict.'
The parish poll will go ahead under the 1972 Local Government Act which says parish councils in England can vote to request their district council to hold a referendum on any issue of concern to the local parish. At least 10 people must be present at a meeting where a formal motion must be put forward and a vote taken.
The decision to hold the referendum was voted on at Monday's meeting, with an overwhelming majority. People will now be asked to vote yes or no in response to the question: 'Do you want the bus station to move from its current site at the Anchor to the site on St Nicholas Street.'
The poll will cost the town council at least �5,000 and must be held between 14 and 25 days from the date it was voted on. The results will not be legally binding but Mr Nunn said they would be debated by Breckland Council.
Polling stations will be open between 4pm and 9pm and people will be able to vote at their usual locations. The date will be decided by Breckland's returning officer and widely publicised by Thetford Town Council.